"Kiber the Cruel"
Iron Man doesnít have a great rogueís gallery. The Mandarin is his arch-nemesis, and he pales in comparison to the Yellow Claw and Fu Manchu. Crimson Dynamo and Titanium Man are Iron Manís Soviet doppelgangers, but the empire is no more and neither are these villains relevant. Black Lash is a mere mercenary. Hawkeye and the Black Widow reformed. Fred Van Lente tries to create a new foe for Tony Stark in Marvel Adventures: Iron Man and his attempt, while laudable, does not exactly impress due to the threat level.
Tony Stark has found his father at the Dam of Three Rivers in Africa. Before he can enjoy a happy reunion, Iron Man must contend with two things, his annoying father and a bizarre foe named Kiber. Please note that Kiber is his actual name. He is not named after a pass, and therefore does not deserve derision.
Scott Koblish designs Kiber to be fairly resonant. Heís a big guy, and heís got a fashion sense thatís not too outlandish. His minions are robots that look AIM issued, and his single power teleportation serves as the root for his motivation.
Kiber was caught in a matter-transmission experiment, and heís literally not all there. He wants to use the power of the three rivers channeled by the dam to reverse the procedure. His rationale is understandable and might even be sympathetic if Kiber were a character that elicited sympathy, but Van Lente and Koblish make certain the reader know that Kiber is an outright villain and too proud for sympathy. That said, if Iron Manís energy levels hadnít been severely diminished, Kiber would have been a push over.
The story starts out slow with Tony finding his dad but not yet revealing his secret identity. Howard Stark isnít a very likable sort, and he grates on the reader. Kiberís robot servants kidnap Howard before Tony can explain how wrong Howardís opinion of him is, Stark believes his son to be a no-account playboy a la Bruce Wayne. Iron Man goes after his dad.
One of the more inventive things that Van Lente does in the story is come up with the idea that an insubstantial villain doesnít need a headquarters thatís architecturally accessible. This forces Iron Man to do something extraordinarily stupid but understandable. Using his repulsor rays, he punches through a mountain.
Depleted of power Iron Manís readily chucked in Kiberís prison. There the wonder that is Howard Stark works on Iron Manís nerves, and in the best scene in the book he begins to strike a wall with his head. The act of desperation gives Iron Man inspiration and a plausible way out of his situation.
Koblish known primarily for his inking does a good job penciling the book. His Iron Man is well designed and proportionate. Koblish also captures Iron Manís body language whether he be aiming his hands to blast the earth or jetting through the air. Where he falters I believe is with Howard Stark. I canít remember a single scene where Howard Starkís mouth isnít comically open. Admittedly Van Lente makes Stark a massive complainer and therefore prone to keep flapping his gums, but Stark wears on the reader visually as he does textually.
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